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Ericsson makes first 5G call to smartphone

Ericsson and Qualcomm have made a 5G call to a smartphone form-factor mobile device, calling it a first.

Ericsson has announced the first 3GPP-compliant 5G New Radio (5G NR) millimetre-wave (mmWave) over-the-air call using a smartphone form-factor mobile device in partnership with Qualcomm.

The call was made in Ericsson's Kista, Sweden, lab, utilising the 39GHz mmWave spectrum band and Ericsson's commercial 5G NR Air 5331 radio and baseband products, as well as a mobile test device packing a Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem and RF subsystem.

According to the companies, trials like this will "pave the way for commercial launches of 5G NR standard-compliant infrastructure, smartphones, and other mobile devices".

"In addition, these early trials and milestones will enable global operators and OEMs to conduct tests in the field using their own networks and devices," they said.

Ericsson EVP and head of Business Area Networks Fredrik Jejdling also said the trial adds to its interoperability tests across new mmWave bands, which provides carriers with more 5G deployment options as well as faster speeds for end users.

Earlier this week, Ericsson had announced adding three new products to its 5G hardware and software portfolio, including spectrum sharing between 4G and 5G bands, street macro transport solutions across mmWave deployments, and radio access network (RAN) compute.

The Ericsson Spectrum Sharing software will support 4G and 5G simultaneously through the same band when using any Ericsson Radio System since 2015 via a remote software installation, the company said.

"This capability will allow communication service providers to deliver nationwide 5G coverage with a much more flexible spectrum migration strategy -- removing the need for dedicating existing 4G spectrum assets to 5G statically, which would negatively impact 4G performance," Ericsson explained.

The networking giant's new Street Macro radios then make it easier to increase capacity in urban areas across mmWave spectrum bands.

Lastly, the RAN Compute portfolio will enable the easy distribution of RAN functions including beam forming and radio control, Ericsson said, and includes all current basebands as well as four new products that increase the capacity of current basebands by up to threefold.

"Two new RAN Compute Basebands enable service providers to deploy RAN functions centrally, or at the radio site, while two new RAN Compute Radio Processors enable RAN functions to be placed closer to the radio for enhanced mobile broadband, ultra-low latency applications while reducing site footprint," Ericsson explained.

All three 5G solutions will launch commercially in the second half of 2019, and follow Ericsson unveiling a complete commercial 5G software set across radio and core networks in February.

In unveiling its first-half results in July, Ericsson had announced net sales of 93.2 billion Swedish kronor (SEK) ($10.5 billion), down from 98.1 billion SEK a year ago, as CEO Börje Ekholm pointed to a future in capturing 5G business.

Ericsson had raised $370 million in December to support its 5G, mobile, and Internet of Things (IoT) R&D activities.

In the past week, Ericsson also announced a 5G partnership with Juniper Networks, an IoT partnership with Sprint, the acquisition of US service assurance technology company Cenx, and the completion of a 5G call with Swisscom in Switzerland.

Ericsson also announced making a 5G data call across a commercial mobile network in partnership with Telstra and Intel in June, using its commercial 5G NR radio 6488, baseband, and packet core across 3.5GHz spectrum, and launched a 5G software development centre in the US in August.

It also recently launched a 5G innovation lab in India, saying it will encourage collaboration on 5G technologies and applications between telecommunications carriers, industry, startups, and academia; signed a partnership to fit out Audi's car factories with 5G connectivity; and is helping Singtel launch its 5G trial network at the end of 2018.

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